Strategic Cropping Land legislation won’t stop coal mines

Published: October 26, 2011

The Lock the Gate Alliance says the ultimate worth of the worth of the Bligh government's strategic cropping land legislation being introduced into the parliament today will be measured by how many coal mines it stops from alienating good farm land.

President of the Lock the Gate Alliance, Drew Hutton, said the Bligh government was claiming it would protect 4 percent of the state but this was sheer spin and it was unlikely that more than 1 percent would be protected because the criteria for what constituted "strategic cropping land" were too restricted and because it won't stop coal seam gas development on this land.

"While mining in about 4 percent of the state might potentially trigger this legislation, criteria like a maximum 4 percent slope rules out much valuable land.

"Who would not think the beautiful peanut growing country like the South Burnett would not qualify for protection? However, because much of this has more than a 5 percent slope, it is open to companies interested in putting heavy-impact bauxite and coal mines on it.

"It is also very likely that this legislation will not apply to coal seam gas operations except, perhaps very large infrastructure like holding ponds and compressor stations.

"There are also inadequate buffer zones between strategic cropping areas and mine sites."

Mr Hutton was also critical of the Bligh government for giving dispensation to Bandanna Energy so they could avoid being caught in the SCL net in the Golden Triange area around Rolleston and Emerald.

"This beautiful country should have received 100 percent protection and yet the Bligh government will allow Bandanna to build at least two mines across very productive farm land," Mr Hutton said.

While the legislation gives many opportunities for mining companies to circumvent strategic cropping land restrictions, it does place onerous restrictions on landowners who are not allowed to build such structures as tennis courts, swimming pools and large sheds on their land if it is in a protected area.

"I call on the LNP to go further than merely parroting Labor Party policy and commit to widening the area of land to receive automatic protection of mining to at least 5 percent of the state."

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